Spectrum 101

The electromagnetic spectrum is a continuous range of frequencies with electric and magnetic energy moving together (i.e. radiating) through space at the speed of light. The spectrum ranges from waves of long wavelength (low frequencies) to those of short wavelength (high frequencies). There are different components to the electromagnetic spectrum, including visible light, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, infra-red radiation, x-rays, and microwaves.  The component which facilitates wireless communication is called the radio frequency spectrum.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum

The radio frequency (RF) spectrum is a valuable natural and finite resource that facilitates the use of wireless technology for the development of the ICT sector, and as an enabler of businesses in other sectors of the economy.  Communicating by a wireless network enables companies in various businesses, from transportation to courier services to banking, to operate in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. 

The greatest demand on the spectrum resource has in the past come from mobile cellular communications.  Since 2001, Jamaica has seen the introduction of new mobile telephone companies, Mossel Jamaica Limited (Digicel) and, Oceanic Digital Jamaica Limited (Claro).  With the new focus on broadband and the delivery of data at high speeds, there is a growing demand for spectrum to facilitate these services.  There is currently a high demand for mobile spectrum from new parties as well as for expansion in the case of existing providers. 

Spectrum is also vital for the safety and security of the people of Jamaica.   This resource is used by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Jamaica Defence Force, safety organizations such as Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, Jamaica Fire Brigade, Red Cross and Citizen Band operators who play a crucial role in emergency situations.

Spectrum is also important in “mission critical” systems such as aeronautical and marine services, as well as for the JPSCo., the local provider of electricity.